THIS YEAR’S International Dairy Week is just a memory for many people, but for three northern Victorian dairy farmers it is one they won’t easily forget.
Elmar Holsteins from Leitchville won the IDW Grand Champion title with Elmar Goldwyn Jessica 11 — the third time a cow from the Jessica family has won, delighting owners Steve and Deanne Hore.
“We were thrilled to come out with a win,” Mrs Hore said.
“There are a lot of great cows at IDW and we were proud of the way she looked on the day —it’s a great way to gauge where we are heading with our breeding.”
Mrs Hore said Jessica 11 was Reserve Champion Holstein in 2015 and this year it was her chance to shine. As well as being crowned the 2018 champion of champions, she also won the Champion Cow and Grand Champion title in the National Holstein Show.
“She has been a great ambassador for our family and the Australian dairy industry.”
Today Jessica 11 is back in the herd and, other than an extra pat and hug, it’s business as usual.
“She is an aggressive lead cow and her job is to be first on the platform — she is a very dominant individual,” Mrs Hore said.
“She calved in October to set her up for IDW and we have her on a flushing program at the moment. She won’t go back to IDW — she has achieved as much as she possibly can and we will just breed on from her in the future.”
Mrs Hore said IDW was a great place to show cows, but it also provided the family with an opportunity to catch up with lifelong friends.
“It’s a great chance to catch up with friends across all breeds. When we travel overseas we have friends and connections in a lot of places and that has come directly from our involvement in the dairy industry.”
IDW 2018 was the second time Tandara Jolt Sarajevo 55 has won Champion Brown Swiss, first taking the title in 2014.
Owned by Ben Govett from Dingee, the 11-and-a-half-year-old has had a great year, taking out an on-farm challenge as well.
“I decided to take her (to IDW) because she was looking pretty good, even though she had been milking for 400 days,” Mr Govett said.
He said despite a decrease in numbers at IDW this year, competition was still good.
“Numbers are probably a reflection of where the industry is. Things are not as bad as last year, but they are still pretty tough — if we have a decent milk price and the weather stays favourable we might be able to get back to square one this season.”
Mr Govett said northern Victoria was a great place to milk cows, despite being at the mercy of water prices and the hot weather.
“Before the drought we were one of the strongest dairying regions in the country and we have some really great dairy farmers and breeders,” he said.
“Gorbro have worked their way to the top and Elmar have been at the top for a long time.”
Mr Govett looks forward to IDW every year. “It is something I love doing and it is the best couple of weeks for me every year, I really look forward to it.”
From the moment Cohuna’s Glen Gordon from Gorbro Holsteins purchased Llandovery JR Joan in partnership with Craig Rapley, he knew he was onto a good thing.
Her track record at IDW has been nothing short of outstanding, but 2018 was her time to really shine — she was crowned Champion Illa warra and Reserve Champion in the all-breeds section.
“She has won her class every year for the last four, so it was great to see her have her day in the sun,” Mr Gordon said.
He said Joan was an easy and placid cow to work with. “She is aggressive when it comes to food, which makes her a dream to take away to shows — she is happy to eat all day.”
Joan was recently classified EX 94. “To my knowledge that is the equal highest classified Illawarra ever in the country,” Mr Gordon said.
The partners have sold a heifer from Joan and it looks like the bull calf she had this year will be bought by one of the AI companies.
“We have left Joan open this year and we intend to flush her and make a few more calves,” Mr Gordon said.
He said the quality of animals on show at IDW this year was great, even if numbers were down.
“It is a costly exercise to show cattle and if your animals aren’t going to be standing at the pointy end of the show, there is no point taking them — for us an animal needs to be competitive to take her.”
Mr Gordon was also excited by Jessica 11 winning IDW Grand Champion.
“We bought a daughter from that family last year so we are very excited to see where she takes us over the next five years.”